Josh Elliott battles for British Superstock 1000cc title
Josh Elliott has suffered a frustrating opening four rounds to the British Superstock 1000cc series, and following an on-track coming together with current series leader Taylor Mackenzie last time out, the reigning champion is now ready to re-load and fight tooth and nail to defend his crown.
"Snetterton was the turning point in the season for me last year," explained Fermanagh ace Elliott, who is a big fan of the Norfolk venue where he will be competing this weekend with Moneymore-based TAS Racing.
"Alastair Seeley was the championship favourite last year, so to beat him at Snetterton gave me a lot of drive for the rest of the year.
"That's what I'll be looking for this coming Sunday, and my only focus will be on winning the race and taking it to Mackenzie," added Elliott, who openly admitted that prior to Knockhill he'd lost a little bit of direction in terms of set-up on the Tyco BMW.
"Yeah, we had a strong pre-season on the bike and lost our way a bit with set-up. At Knockhill we went back to basics as well as putting in a new engine.
"I also made another change, which has given me added confidence. Now I know I can challenge from here on in," explained Elliott who won last year's championship on a ZX-10R Kawasaki.
Now Tyco BMW mounted, he has yet to win a race this season, but three podiums from the opening five races has kept him within 36 points of Mackenzie, with fellow Ulsterman Keith Farmer just one point ahead of the reigning champion in second spot.
Mackenzie did take the chequered flag at Knockhill, which would have given him four wins from the opening five races.
But in light of the incident with Elliott, he was later demoted to fourth place after the stewards of the meeting put it under investigation.
"I was the one who lost out most, but it is what it is and despite it all, I came away from Scotland in a positive frame of mind," said the 22-year-old, who eventually finished eighth despite leading at the time of the clash with Mackenzie.
Summing up the campaign so far, he explained: "The championship is a lot stronger this season for sure.
"Taylor is riding really well since he came in, as is Hutchy (Ian Hutchinson) my team-mate, and Keith Farmer is also in there.
"The pace is hot and everyone is more consistent and Taylor has obviously spiced things up a bit after his remarks in Scotland," said Elliott, referring to the 'gloves off' approach by Mackenzie in his post-race interview.
Pragmatic and mild-mannered by nature, Elliott usually responds with brevity, but on this occasion he was prepared to add that little bit more substance.
"I can understand why Taylor is frustrated. His current ego and attitude comes from confidence," he said.
"He's riding well and he's not going to be easily beaten. But I obviously rattled him at Knockhill as he made a few mistakes and had a few moments when I was following him. The plan is to keep that up and give him a tough time," he concluded with a smile.
As well as having to deal with archrival Mackenzie, Clogher's Farmer and his Tyco BMW team-mate Hutchinson this weekend, his former mentor is back on the British championship grid.
"Ah, McWilliams!" said young Elliott of 52-year-old former GP racer Jeremy who will ride for EHA Racing at Snetterton.
Elliott added: "He's some boy. I'm not sure how competitive the Aprilia will be, but what it lacks I'm sure Jeremy will make up for in terms of experience. It'll be good to have him on the grid."